Jury’s verdict: Get to know the quiet Kiwi defensive assassin

SILVER Fern and Central Pulse defender Kelly Jury is a fierce defender on court, but what is the story behind this fearless defender? Let us get to know this quiet assassin of the New Zealand defensive end.

Jury’s sporting career could have been very different, if not for a cousin who initially sparked her passion for netball.

“I always remember growing up and my cousin playing (netball), and I always wanted to be just like her,” Jury said. “I actually gave soccer a go at first and played in my older brother’s team, but wasn’t very good, so it was an easy decision to give netball a crack.”

After starting her netball journey back in Taranaki, Jury was fortunate enough in her last year of high school to earn a contract in the ANZ Premiership with the Waikaito Bay of Plenty Magic.

She admitted the feat was “hugely surprising” because although she had made the New Zealand Secondary Schools team that year, taking that next step was not even on her radar.

Five years after her first step into the bigtime, Jury moved to the Pulse where the appeal of hometown comfort and pride played a factor.

“I think deep down there was always kind of a feeling of wanting to represent my home region,” she said. “I’m from Taranaki and very proud of that and really wanted to represent where I came from and my family.

“Also the opportunity to be coached by Waimarama [Taumaunu] and Yvette [McCaulsand-Durie]. They’re incredible people and coaches and have a wealth of knowledge within the netball realm.

“I think at that stage in my career I was ready for a change. I’d been at Magic five years and it was a decision I definitely don’t regret.”

Unlike many players, Jury’s tall stature was not the reason she is now a defender, but New Zealanders may have been watching Jury in a very different position these days if not for an unfortunate injury.

“It’s a funny story actually. I was a shooter probably up until I was 16 or 17 years old, and I dislocated my thumb and I had to wear a brace and it was on my right shooting hand and I couldn’t balance the ball in my hand to shoot properly,” she said.

“So as opposed to sitting on the sidelines they chucked me down at the defensive end and I never wanted to go back down the other end at the shooting end.”

“It’s funny how things work out but I definitely do enjoy the defensive end more… I just wanted to run around and get amongst everything so the defensive switch was an easy one in the end for me.”

Of all the players Jury normally partners with in defence, she noted how she enjoys playing with fellow Pulse defender Kristiana Manu’a, because of her “hunger and fight”, going as far as to say she wouldn’t want to come up against her.

Having been part of multiple titles in the yellow Pulse dress, moving on to play domestically in either Australia or the UK is not on Jury’s radar at the moment, because she does not want to give up the ability to play for the Silver Ferns. She says she’s happy with where she’s at.

At this stage in her life off the court, life is pretty straightforward for the star defender. Although she has previously studied and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sport and Human Performance and would not say no to part-time work, her main focus at the moment is netball and with a World Cup coming up in only a matter of months, she wants to be in the best possible place both physically and mentally.

Despite having already achieved so much already in her career, her ultimate career goal at the moment is to win a World Cup with her beloved Silver Ferns. With one only three and a half months away, perhaps this is the year that dream finally becomes reality.

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